Tag Archives: Provence

Gordes

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Gordes is a very beautiful village, perched on the southern edge of the Vaucluse plateau. The stone buildings and houses cling to the cliffs and spill down the southern hillside. The view of the village on approach is stunning, and from within the village the view is a southern panorama out across the fields and forests and small perched villages to the Luberon hills.

gordes-squareCrowned by a Renaissance castle, the narrow cobblestone streets wind around a small square with a fountain and terrace cafes. The stone paths and steps meander through the village past lovely stone houses built on several levels and spectacular views of the Luberon valley. The village has many restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and several other shops plus a market on Tuesday mornings.  Gordes offers exceptional charm, and is one of the most beautiful villages of France.gordes-bories

Just outside Gordes , you can visit the Village de Bories, an ancient hamlet of all dry-stone buildings that are found in this area, including a fascinating collection of houses, walls, barns and a variety of other enclosures, including a period silk-making shop. gordes-senanque

 

 

Nearby, just to the north of Gordes a small roads leads to the picturesque Abbaye de Sénanque only 4 km away. The Abbaye de Sénanque is particularly beautiful in June when the fields of lavender are in bloom.

 

Where to stay: Domaine Gordes is an exceptional villa for up to 12 guests with 6 bedrooms & bathrooms, heated pool, incredible views, sumptuous furnishings & decor, and a tennis court. Contact http://www.francebound.net for reservations.

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Villa Luberon

8423bbVilla Luberon is an ideal retreat for a holiday in the Luberon. With breathtaking views and exceptional comfort and privacy, this luxury villa is one of our favourite villas in the Luberon. Featuring an open floor plan with spectacular views of the mountains, nearby villages, and surrounding vineyards through multiple French doors and large windows, this large private property includes a main house with 3 ensuite bedrooms, a guest house with 2 ensuite bedrooms, several outdoor terraces, a heated horizon pool, and beautiful gardens.

114The villa is beautifully designed and very well appointed. In the main house, the spacious open plan living and dining rooms have cathedral ceilings, rustic wood beams, plus a wall of French doors opening out to the terraces, pool, and panoramic views.  The Provençal-style chef’s kitchen is at the heart of the home, and is equipped with top-of-the-line appliances, and a large country style table that is perfect for informal meals and kitchen gatherings.

8423kitchenThree large bedrooms in the main house, all have king-size beds, en-suite bathrooms, and air conditioning. One is on the main floor and the other two are upstairs. All the bedrooms enjoy gorgeous views of the countryside, and open to terraces. The smaller adjacent guesthouse is perfect for teenagers or a  nanny and younger children: 1 room with queensize bed, plus a children’s room with twin beds. Both rooms also have ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning.This beautifully appointed villa accommodate up to 10 guests.

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Nearby Goult is a charming and relatively quiet Luberon village with pretty golden stone houses, several shops, cafes & restaurants, and a Monday morning market. At the top of the village is a picturesque windmill with panoramic views.

Contact http://www.francebound.net for reservations. There is still good availability for 2015.

Lourmarin

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The village of Lourmarin lies in the southern Luberon valley, at the base of the Luberon range and sheltered from the Mistral winds. Lourmarin is one of the loveliest villages: it has a special art de vivre, charming boutiques, art galleries, cultural sites and a beautiful Provençal market, which are all reasons why Lourmarin is so popular for visiting and living.

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This perfect Provencal village is one of our favourites. The village is filled with outdoor cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the cobblestone streets throughout the village – a fabulous place to spend a morning or an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and the Provencal lifestyle.

The beautiful Renaissance castle is worth a visit and is surrounded by beautiful green fields, The impressive belfry Castelas stands at the highest point of the village, and is built on the remains of the medieval moated castle that once dominated Lourmarin.

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Many artists lived and worked In Lourmarin, including the Nobel prize-winning French author Albert Camus, whose L’Etranger is one of the great novels of the 20th century. Albert Camus is buried in Lourmarin cemetery and has a street in Lourmarin named after him.

There are lots of pretty cobblestone streets and walking paths winding into the village, where you will find lots of charming boutiques. Lourmarin has a market every Friday morning, which fills the main street leading into the village. It is a good sized market and one of our favourite in the area.

397During our week in the Luberon, we had coffee or lunch several times in Lourmarin at the outdoor cafes in the beautiful late October sunshine. We had great salads at L’Insolite and Chez Gaby on the Place de la Fontaine.

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The Michelin starred chef Reine Sammut has her famous gastronomic restaurant  and hotel – the Auberge la Fenière, in Lourmarin. And we enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon lunch with friends at the newer Bistrot, which was excellent. Highlights were the peach and grapefruit cocktail, and the seabass served with a caper, olive and tomato sauce – delicious.

Bonnieux

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Rising above the valley, Bonnieux appears on the hillside after the last curves in the road, which is the passage-point for crossing the massif Luberon dividing the northern and southern Luberon.  027

The road winds back and forth through the hills and up into the village of Bonnieux – a popular ride for cycling enthusiasts. In the village, the views of the surrounding valley are superb, with a patchwork of vineyards and orchards, and also across the Vaucluse plateau to the equally picturesque perched village of Lacoste.

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In the village you can walk up through the narrow streets of the village passing through arched tunnels beneath the houses, and up 86 steps to the top, where you can discover the 12th-century “Eglise Haute ” church with a high, pointed steeple, and take in the spectacular views.

Past the end of the high church, there is a lovely little park with lush green grass shaded by tall pine trees and magnificent centuries old cedars with a view of the gorges cutting through the Luberon to the south.

The Musée de la Boulangerie is located in the village in a 17th-century house. The museum explains the history of bread, from Roman times through Medieval and the French Revolution. Explained is the entire sequence of bread making, from the agrarian civilizations and their farming equipment, through the milling to the distribution. The museum is open in the summer, daily except Tuesdays. In the Spring and Summer the museum is on weekends.

Menerbes

menerbesMénerbes also ranks as one of the most beautiful villages in France.  This medieval stone village is perched at the top of a ridge with outstanding views of the Luberon and overlooks the cherry orchards and vineyards in the surrounding valley. Menerbes has now returned to is origins as a quaint and quiet village, after the onslaught of visitors that came to the village following Peter Mayle’s book ‘A Year in Provence’.

011The village streets are lined with 16th and 17th century architecture, including the Citadelle, a 16th century miniature fortress, and the chateau du Castellet.

The Maison de la Truffe et du Vin is located in the Place de l’Horloge at the top of Menerbes in a beautifully restored mansion, where you can learn out all about truffles and taste the excellent Côtes du Luberon wines. Wine appreciation courses are offered in the summer.

005Menerbes has several shops, cafes and restaurants, and a market on Thursday mornings. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch on the sunny terrace at Le Galoubet. The vegetable quiche (tarte du jour) was excellent, and was served with a delicious side salad.

 

 

Cucuron

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Just up the road from Ansouis is the delightful walled Medieval village of Cucuron. This picturesque village is pretty enough to have been used as the setting for the movies ‘A Good Year’ and  ‘The Horseman on the Roof’.

 

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Cucuron is best known for its bassin – a lovely rectangular pool of water in the main square shaded by 200 year old plane trees and a line of cafes and restaurant terraces on one side. The Cucuron bassin began as a small lake fed by water sources from the Luberon hills, and the water was used to power the flour mills. It was converted into the rectangular walled bassin at the beginning of the 19th century. On Tuesday mornings, there is a great little market around the bassin.

411The village is constructed in the usual style of the Middle Ages, with streets and houses winding up to a castle at the highest point, although in Cucuron, only the castle’s dungeon remains.

413You can walk around the village exploring the charming streets up toward the medieval rampart walls and the donjon (dungeon) St Michel. You can also visit the village church: Notre Dame de Beaulieu, which has a rare stone campanile and is quite beautiful inside with a wood mural from the 16th century, an original Romanesque nave, and a magnificent restored organ from 1616. In the summer, there are often concerts held in the church.

From the high points of the village, you can enjoy spectacular views over the tile rooftops to the valley below filled with orchards, vineyards, and olive groves, and the southern slope of the Luberon mountains. On a clear day, you might even see Mont St. Victoire and the Alpilles in the distance to the south.

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During our stay in the Luberon, Cucuron was our home. We stayed at a lovely one bedroom apartment with a sunny terrace on the edge of the village.    

 

 

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Ansouis

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Our visit to the Luberon begins in Ansouis, an exceptionally well preserved village that retains its original beauty. Ansouis is ideally located just 30 minutes north of Aix en Provence and 1 hour from Avignon.

 

 

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The village of Ansouis is crowned by one of the most beautiful castles/châteaux in the Luberon. Originally, built as a fortress in the 10th century, the castle has some beautiful furnishings and tapestries dating to the 17th and 18th centuries, plus a lovely kitchen and beautiful terraces and garden, which make the castle well worth a visit. Both the castle and the village are beautifully preserved, and many of the houses date back to the 15th century.

346Where to stay:  Ideally located in the heart of Ansouis, this beautifully restored historic village house is very well appointed and well equipped. This Luberon Village house cleverly combines original charm and character with modern conveniences, and features 5 luxurious bedrooms, 5 recently renovated bathrooms, a new chef’s kitchen, a gorgeous sunny rooftop terrace with fabulous views, a pretty interior courtyard with a fountain, and air conditioning.  The house can be rented in a 3 or 5 bedroom configuration.

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Where to eat:  Ansouis also has one of the best restaurants in the region. La Closerie is a tiny restaurant with excellent food and service. The restaurant now has a Michelin star, yet it retains a relaxed charm and reasonable prices. Make sure you book well in advance as this tiny restaurant is very popular with both locals and visitors.